This preference might be irrational, and that is how emotions are ways of knowing. Emotion is also a human way of knowing that is highly subjective and can be shaped by beliefs: “a change in our beliefs can lead to a change in the corresponding emotion. For example, if you enter a badly lit cellar and see a snake in the corner, you will probably be frightened. But if, when you look more closely, you discover that it is not a snake but a coiled rope, your fear will vanish.
A change in your beliefs has led to a change in your emotions” (van de Lagemaat 150). Emotion is strongly connected to perception: Our perception of things can be colored by strong emotions, and there is doubtless some truth in sayings like ‘love is blind’ and fear has many eyes’. Such emotional coloring can make us aware of some aspects of reality to the exclusion of others. If, for example, you are in love with someone you are likely to be blind to their faults; whereas if you loathe them you are likely to see only their faults (van de Lagemaat 151).
Christopher Boone, most of the time, does not feel any emotion. That is because, once again, he is autistic and has an extremely rational mind which leans so far towards reason that it has no place for intuition. Such can be seen in his dispassionate style of stating things, feeling no emotion for the “fact” that his mother died, and inability to love.
These are instances which would normally cause people to erupt with emotion; grief, exaggeration, and extreme infatuation.
However, because emotion, just like perception, is unique to the one who experiences it, Christopher experiences tremendous feeling when he discovers that his father lied about his mother dying and killed Wellington, his neighbor’s dog. Upon discovering something of this sort, most people would not assume that just because the father killed the dog in a fit of rage (without even meaning to murder), it is likely that he will kill them too. Additionally, most people would be angry yet after a while, relieved that the mother is still alive.
But Christopher is afraid of the father: “I had to get out of the house. Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me, because I couldn’t trust him, even though he had said ‘Trust me,’ because he had told a lie about a big thing” (Haddon 122). Lies do not evoke fear in ‘normal’ humans, but Christopher, being autistic, feels this way. This only further elucidates the fact that Christopher, though denying having any emotion, does have emotions which are highly adjusted to his autistic nature, and thus are unique and unfitting to any other human.
Most people acknowledge the fact that emotions are a part of daily life, and it is impossible to be completely free of them. Christopher, however, being the rational person he is, subconsciously knows that “reason and emotions are closely related to one another and it is difficult to make a clear distinction between them, thus it is easier to adjust our beliefs to our emotions than bring our emotions into line with reason” (van de Lagemaat 156-7). That is the reason why he detests the colors brown and yellow; he contains emotion that he cannot define, thus he rationalizes it.
Therefore, one can conclude that emotion is also highly individual. Finally, humans’ choices regarding perception illustrate their differences in mental makeup. That is because intuition shapes human perception and emotion, and thus adds an irrational and unique element to our choices. Personally, I do not like the smell of freshly mown grass, the taste of sushi, or the sound of classical music. Most people regard me as strange when I state these, but these simply illustrate my unconscious personality.
Additionally, one time, in grade 10, I felt like I really didn’t need to do my science homework one night. This was an extremely strange feeling, as I always do my homework, and in 10th grade, I had plenty of free time and went to bed at 10:00 pm every day. However, the next day I find out that Ms. Moers was absent, we had a substitute, and he didn’t even know we had homework. This was most definitely a form of intuition; a way of knowing that Christopher Boone would frown upon. However, no one else in my science class felt this flash of intuitive thought the night before.
This illustrates that “intuition is an important source of knowledge but different people have conflicting intuitions. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that decent, open-minded, well-educated people could all agree about what is intuitively obvious? But we only have to look around us to see that this is not the case” (van de Lagemaat 159). My flash of intuition illustrated that intuition is an aspect of emotion that is subjective because I regarded not doing my homework as something that cannot be explained; this was because I’m a student who always does her homework on time, so I had to have a reason for not doing it.
I would have done it if this random intuition had not stopped me. Similarly, Christopher’s intuitions are also highly relative: “[He doesn’t like] Bananas [because they are yellow] (bananas also turn brown)” (Haddon 84). Personally, I love bananas, and I also really like the color brown, and I don’t mind the color yellow, however, Christopher does not like these colors because he has some form of emotion and intuition government by his unconscious mind that allows him to make these choices.
Since he is very rationalistic, he states, “in life you have to take lots of decisions and if you don’t take decisions you would never do anything because you would spend all your time choosing between things you could do” (Haddon 85). Hence, one can see that humans’ perception is defined strongly by their emotions and beliefs, thus causing us to understand things not the way they are but as we are. Conclusively, it is impossible, even if one is autistic, to perceive things free of emotion and intuition.
Thus, the most important thing that can come out of the realization that humans define and perceive objects uniquely is that one can learn more about oneself from these perceptions. Either way, Christopher John Francis Boone and myself serve as sometimes opposite yet sometimes very similar examples in defining that humans are irrational and highly subjective creatures who “think and name in one world” and “live and feel in another” (Proust, 1871-1922).
Works Cited Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.New York City: Vintage Books, Random House, Inc. , 2003. Lagemaat, Richard van de. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. HIMAINI SHARMA IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 1 MR. FRERIKSEN January 16, 2011 1 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.